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Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

December 13, 2010 - Amy Phelps
I usually like Stephen King's short story collections better than his novels (excepting The Stand), so I looked forward to his latest release, "Full Dark, No Stars." The book is four short "novellas" that are centered around vengeance. And as you can guess from the title, they get pretty dark.

The first (and my least favorite) is "1922" concerning the story of a farmer whose wife wants to sell the land and move to the city. He doesn't, and convinces his son to help murder her and put her body in an old well filled with rats. Their lives go downhill from there, and soon the farmer realizes he has destroyed not only his wife, but the life of his son. And why do rats keep appearing? There is an element of Edgar Allen Poe's work in this story of murder and paranoia, and the feeling of is it insanity or the supernatural at work, but the reason that this story was my least favorite was the pacing was a lot slower than the other stories, and it almost felt like sections could have been cut out without making any difference.

"Big Driver" is the story of a "cozy mystery" writer who is savagely attacked and left for dead after taking a recommended "shortcut" after a book signing. Was she set up? And what will she do about it now? This is a thriller kind of story, in which an ordinary person is horribly attacked and seeks justice by her own hand against the perpetrators.

"Fair Extension" is a "deal with the devil" kind of story - in which a man encounters a stranger along a road, offering to extend his life, cancer-free, but for a price. For if you take away your own bad luck, you must give it to someone else. And as the man who had nothing gradually gains while his best friend begins to lose, we see vengeance from a different perspective.

"A Good Marriage" and my favorite story in the book, concerns an ordinary housewife who stumbles upon the well-kept secret of her husband's double life and the horrors that come along with it, and concerns how well we ever really know another person. It will really make you think.

My favorite special feature of all of Stephen King's short story collections is he always talks about the inspiration of the stories, and that's always interesting to me.

And, as a sidebar, I read this on my ereader, and it was so nice to be able to read a Stephen King book without holding a huge doorstop while doing so!

"Full Dark, No Stars" is published by Simon and Schuster. The hardcover is $27.99 and the ebook is $12.99.


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